Thursday, August 15, 2013

Typical Sushi Lunch

This is a typical fast school lunch. I can put this together in about 5 minutes in the morning. Today's sushi is simply carrots and cucumbers, but I do vary the vegetables. I've used asparagus, bell peppers, tofu, rolled up spinach leaves. If I have it on hand and it can be stuck into a sushi roll I've probably tried it. She's eaten it all, but she wasn't as fond of the leaves. She likes spinach in salads and smoothies, but apparently it's not sushi appropriate. 

Also included are blackberries and blueberries. I stuck a Cascadian Farms chocolate chip granola bar in the center as a divider. This LunchBots container is different from the one yesterday in that it is just one open container with no dividers. That brand of granola bar is one of the only varieties I've found that does not contain tree nuts. 

I've been making sushi for the last year, so it's just as easy to throw these together as it would be for most people to make a pb&j.

I make a pot of brown rice once or twice a week and keep it in the fridge to have on hand. To give it the "sticky" quality needed for sushi, I simply add a little more water than called for and cook it for maybe 5 minutes more. Typical sushi rice recipes call for rice vinegar and sugar, but Sweetpea seems to think that makes the rice taste like lemonade. Maybe I just haven't quite figured out the right ratio. For now I just sprinkle a little vinegar in the rice. She seems fine with that. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Special Bento for Starting Third Grade

Hello, Blogworld! I'm sorry I've been MIA, but I do have a fairly good reason. Last year Sweetpea announced, "I love sushi! If you make me sushi every day in my lunch I'll eat every bite."

Who was I to argue? I was a little disappointed that she didn't expect me to make charaben every day, but it was really easy to get into the routine of making her a vegetable sushi roll every morning. They were in bento boxes and the lunches could be quite colorful. Usually I made her a carrot and cucumber sushi and varied the fruit and treat. I even took a few photos. But how much can one really say about sushi day after day?

At the end of the year, she asked, "Why don't you make me cute bentos anymore? I love sushi, but I didn't mean for you to NEVER make special lunches."

Well, okay then. Thanks for clarifying.

Today was her very first day of third grade. (Yes, I actually typed 'first' grade before I realized my mistake.) I know it's a total cliche, but I'll say it anyway - I can't believe how quickly the time has passed.  

For her first school lunch of the year, I chose to make a Hawaiian themed bento in remembrance of our recent vacation in Maui.

I'm a little bit out of practice, but I don't think it turned out too bad. On the left side is a carrot and cucumber palm tree standing on a blackberry black sand beach. On the right is a brown rice turtle surrounded by pickled ginger flowers. After I took the photos, I remembered that I had some paper cocktail umbrellas among all my bento stuff so I tucked it in next to the metal separator. She plans to skewer the cucumbers and blackberries with it.


Friday, January 27, 2012

An early Valentine bento

I usually start the grocery list on Friday night so it's ready for a trip to the store on Saturday morning. One Saturday morning recently, I got the rare treat of sleeping in. sweetPea decided to help out by planning the meals and finishing the grocery list for me. I had to add a lot of ingredients she left off, but all in all, she did a pretty good job. 

One meal she chose was Beets & Greens Risotto. It's actually one of her favorites, as odd as that may sound. It's kind of a pain in the butt to make, but once I realized I could use my food processor to grate the beets it got a little easier. Risotto is especially nice because it can be shaped just like sushi rice. Plus, it's got a lovely creamy mouth feel that is accomplished without the addition of cream. 

I didn't use any kind of special shaping equipment to make the hearts. I simply put a few tablespoons of risotto into a piece of plastic wrap and manipulated it into roughly the shape I wanted. Then I used the back of a butter knife to make the indentation at the top of the heart. I added little nori hearts more for color than anything else. In the back container is a simple garden salad. I should have cut the watermelon radishes into heart shapes, but I was short on time and the salad was already made. 

She ate pretty much all of this lunch. 


Holiday Bentos

I made several cute holiday bentos that I never got around to posting. They're still cute, even if they're a little late. 

This first one is supposed to be a Christmas tree. I think I was a little late that morning and threw it together as quickly as possible. I got this idea from a friend who made a big veggie appetizer tray shaped like a Christmas tree. I figured if you can do it in a large size, surely you can make it smaller. This lunch includes broccoli, celery (for the stem - you can barely see it), red bell peppers, cauliflower, dried cranberries, and a BabyBel cheese shaped into a gift.

I had a lot of ideas for holiday bentos, but the season got away from me. So I included several ideas into this one lunch: a gingerbread sandwich with raisin buttons and a nori face, some white cheddar cheese stars, a BabyBel peppermint candy, and some broccoli and carrots scattered around. I found the food picks at Joanne's Fabric & Crafts.

School reconvened on January 2 this year so I sent her with a special Happy New Year's bento. In the back is left over slaw from a local restaurant. In the front section are strawberries and blueberries. I decorated it with cheddar cheese cutouts. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gobble, Gobble!: #61

A few weeks ago I was invited to help a group of Girl Scouts make bentos of their very own. Since it was so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought turkeys would be a fun and easy shape to make. Plus, the colorful turkey tail allowed the girls to mix and match from a variety of vegetables and fruits.

Above you can see my "demo" bento. Since I was working with 24 young Girl Scouts, plus a sibling or two and my own sweetPea, I wanted to be prepared. In order to expedite the process, the leader and I washed, sliced, and chopped the vegetables in advance. In the bento above are red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, red grapes, broccoli, and a whole wheat bread and cheese sandwich. The turkey's eyes are made from nori, its beak is cheese, and its waddle is a little piece of red bell pepper.

The girls could choose from peanut butter or cheese to fill their sandwiches. They took the basic instructions and ran with it, which is really what bento is all about. I really loved spending time with them and seeing their creative lunches.

Here are a few I was able to photograph before the girls began departing:

sweetPea wanted me to photograph her bento separately. She was pretty proud of the very first bento she constructed on her own. She took hers and the one I made for lunch on consecutive days. She said they held up well, but the one I made came back with the sandwich untouched. Apparently it got a little soggy after sitting for a few days. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bunnicula: #60

For our Mother-Daughter book club this month, the choice was Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery. It's a very cute story and a quick read. In fact, she had me read it to her twice. I wouldn't consider it scary and P is fairly sensitive to that kind of thing. Bunnicula is a bunny who was found in a movie theater during the screening of Dracula. He was taken home by a family with two boys, a cat, and a dog. Soon the family notices that their vegetables are mysteriously turning white. What follows is an entertaining story centering on the cat attempting to convince the dog of the bunny's vampire status and to warn the human members of the family.

Needless to say, it was an appropriate Halloween read. This bento is made up of a cheese sandwich in the shape of Bunnicula. He is a white bunny with black markings (strangely in the shape of a cap) on his back. The cape is made of nori and the photo makes it look more wrinkly than it really was. He has a red Craisin eye and several drained vegetables in front of him made out of cucumbers. Behind him are some broccoli pieces that he has yet to drain. Underneath the cucumbers are red grapes that he has yet to find.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three Little Jack-o-lanterns: #59

The three pumpkins are made out of rice and roasted butternuts squash with a little cinnamon and brown sugar. Their features are nori with raisin stems. In the back section are purple grapes, Babybel cheese, yellow tomato slices, and cucumber slices cut into pumpkin shapes.